I look around the apartment, at the cameras and tripods strewn about the living area, at the new guitar propped in its corner. Before this summer, I never picked up a camera except on field trips and I only ever dreamed of playing guitar. But now, suddenly, I am finally becoming the person I always wanted to be. I attribute that fact almost entirely to my new haircut. As strange and shallow as that sounds, let me explain to you.
My hair prior to this summer was long, dry, and perpetually tangled. In a desperate attempt at SEXY I bought special leave-in conditioners and hairsprays. I even tried dyeing it a few times. It hardly ever did anything to help it, and I had resorted to straightening it every morning. It took up way too much time, and was terrible for my hair. Finally, I decided to get it all chopped off. It was a big decision. With my conservative grandfather’s voice ringing in my head, telling me that a “woman’s hair is her glory and to never cut it off”, I called up a nearby salon and scheduled an appointment.
“All off!” I proclaimed to the beautician, feeling like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.
The results wowed me, and everyone else. The pixie cut was a massive success. As I looked in the mirror, I felt like a puzzle piece had snapped into place. Yes. This – this was right. But what I first thought was simply a “good style” began to morph into something a lot bigger than not having to deal with limp, snarled hair every morning (although that in itself is a blessing). Here are a few of the things that has happened to me since I got my radical haircut, and why I think it’s the hair that makes the difference.
1. My Style Got Bolder
It’s all about self-confidence. Since I had already taken one huge step in defining a personal style that (admittedly) went beyond the standard version of feminine and beautiful, I figured I might as well go whole hog. And I did. Platform heel sneakers, sparkly leg warmers, huge plaid shirts and tiny, hole-filled boyfriend jeans with tattered boots, scarves and – not to mention – tons of hats that now somehow worked – all became staples of my wardrobe.
2. I Started Working Out & Eating Better
If my hair looked this good, I felt as though the rest of my body deserved to look as good. Since I had seen what one kind of radical transformation did for my appearance and self-confidence, it made reaching that second transformation goal twice as tantalizing and twice as doable. Also, going running without having to worry about sweaty ponytails is a joy beyond measure.
3. I Embraced My Inner Geek
Hey, my hair was already in-your-face. At this point, it would almost be a contradiction to be conventional in other areas. Why not start becoming a coffee geek? Why not stock up on the Star Trek DVDs and wear the nerdy graphic T-shirts? Why not get a tattoo in the shape of a keyhole on the back of my neck (next on my list)? Why not flaunt the fact that I listen to ‘70s rock and European symphonic goth metal? I was strange and quirky and not afraid to show it.
4. I Got A New Job In A New Field
The timing of the freelance videography job offer was mere coincidence, but the fact that I chose to go in for that interview was all about my hair. It had just been a few weeks after the trip to the salon, and I was feeling really good about myself (and wanted to try rocking my old blazer with the new cut). Because I felt more like an edgy woman, someone to be reckoned with, I went in for that interview. And I rocked it. I got the gig because my hair gave me the self-confidence to take that initial step.
5. I Started Learning New Skills
I’m 20 and just about to graduate college. Previously, I’d felt that I was at a point where it didn’t make sense to learn new things, change my interests, or risk failing at something. I’d leave that for when my life was more stable, when I had time and money to spend. But something about looking different made me think: “Wow, I can be different if I just jump in!” And so I enrolled in random online college classes over the summer to learn new niche skills. I got a friend to start teaching me guitar. I already felt like a different person, so why not embrace that change wholly?
6. I Became More of a Feminist
I’d heard of this happening: girls getting their hair cut off and becoming feminists. And it’s true, it happens. This is mainly because of the negative stereotypes and assumptions that so often surround girls with short hair. It really throws a new light on the subject of what is ‘acceptable’ as a woman and what is not. According to some people online, I am now damaged, sadistic, and should be avoided at all costs, just because I decided to chop off my rattails in favor of something nicer. Realizing this one issue simply dragged me down into a spiral of continual revelations about femininity and where women stand in society.
7. I Started Questioning Old Beliefs
As someone who was always told to keep her hair long for moral and social reasons, it took a bit of introspection to justify my new cut. The fact that 9 out of 10 girls you meet on the street will have long hair (and 99% of models and actresses have long hair) also put up a barrier of ‘cultural acceptability’. Realizing that it was easy (and largely praised by those closest to me) to ditch this one long-held belief, I began to wonder which others would be just as easy to part with. If short hair was just as good as long hair, what else was struggling under the weight of false assumptions, age-old prejudice, and a desire to control?
These are just some of the things that have happened to me since my fateful pixie cut. In a way, it sounds shallow – basing success on one’s appearance. My emphasis, however, is not on the way you look but on the way you feel. What makes you feel like you can change yourself and the world around you? For me, it was a pixie cut. For you, it might be something completely different. The key is to take that leap of faith, and not to base decisions on what culture deems to be safe and acceptable. You’ll surprise yourself, and everyone around you!